A rare Persian carpet sold at Sotheby's auction house on Wednesday was nabbed by an anonymous caller who dropped $33.7 million to own it.
The carpet is from the 17th century and came from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; they received it in 1926 from William A. Clark, a U.S. senator from Montana. Measuring 8'9" by 6'5", it is now the record holder for fetching the highest bid at auction. A Persian rug sold at Christie's in 2010 for $9.6 million.
Oriental rug expert Jan David Winitz says that more and more people are collecting well-crafted rugs as art.
“I expected that the piece would draw strong bidding,” he said, “but this price which is more than three and one-half times higher than the highest previously paid for a rug is truly phenomenal. The Safavid ‘Sickle Leaf’ Persian rug from the collection of William Andrews Clark is well-documented in the Oriental rug literature. The auction comes at a time when art collectors are increasingly interested in the best-of-the-best historical Oriental rugs, which are almost entirely in museum collections and rarely come to market."